8/30/2018

Get Up and Get a Move On

I wrote about this topic before but things are still difficult when it comes to this:

Depression.

Now my favorite band of all time, SHINEDOWN, published their music video for their song "Get Up" - which deals with exactly this topic. The reason is as simple as it gets. It affects them. Because their incredibly talented bassist Eric Bass has a clinical depression.

So, let me tell you something about Eric.
He's strong. He goes up on stage night after night with this sickness in his brain (as it is a sickness, not more, not less) and makes us, the fans, the happiest people on earth. He gives us strength, even when he might not feel strong. He makes us smile, even when he might feel like crying. He builds us up, even when he might be down.
I really admire this man. For what he does, for who he is. Because he is amazing. And he shed some light on this very dark, very personal topic. He talks very open about it now and that helped many people I know to talk about their own demons and struggles as well. It helped me, too. 

Here's a quote from Eric Bass. I think it says it all and it is very true:

"... if depression is the house fire, then the stigma of mental illness is the 80-pound ankle weight that keeps people from running out of the burning building. It's the saddest part of the story. They'd rather burn alive than ask for help. How many lives could be changed or saved if people felt they could ask their employer or teacher for help without fear of backlash or ridicule? It would change the entire scope of how these illnesses are dealt with. We have to change the narrative, and we have to do it soon."
- Eric Bass

Please let this sink in for a second. And then listen to this song: "Get Up" by Shinedown.


Mental illnesses are as real and as dangerous as physical illnesses. They affect millions of people. So why don't we treat them like we treat the flu or cancer? 
Listen to the people around you. Listen if they need your help. Lend a helping hand! 

And to those struggling... You are not alone. You are not! I am here with you, and so is Eric, and so is Shinedown, and so are thousands of others. And if you ever feel like you can't go on, just ask for help. It is okay to do so. It is not weak. It is important. And we are here. 

You can always send me messages, here or via Twitter. 

Always remember: You are not alone! We're in this together. And somebody really loves you and needs you in this world!

7/16/2018

By the way, did I mention...?

When Shinedown's new album "Attention Attention" came out, it caused in me a wave of inspiration and enthusiasm. The result is a photo project. I made a shot for every song of the album. Because this is Shinedown's story, but it's also mine and it's also yours if you want to. Because we all enter this room from time to time and take a dive into our psyche. Here's how my story looks.

The Entrance
'Cause I was sent to warn you: the devil's right beside you.
And it might take forever to put you back together.
Attention, attention! By the way, did I mention: Nothing 'bout me is ordinary.
Kill your conscience - better you than me.
What can you do? Where can you go? When your momma is a burnout and your daddy is a pyro.
'Cause my monsters are real and they're trained how to kill.
Welcome to the party, won't you please come inside where habits have teeth and the words carry knives.
We're creatures of habit, we can't live without it. We don't have to answer to anyone.
In a room full of mirrors there's only one way out.
Get up, get up, get a move on. Get up, get up. What's taking so long?
If you take it down a notch and you let me explain that on this earth we are all the same.
We march, we fight, we live. We scream, we die, we give. We want the world to know we are the human radio.
As I crash and burn like I just don't care, it's my day to be brilliant.


7/05/2018

Secrets of Ink #5

This is a Malaysian tapir that I wear on my left leg, right next to my Amaryllis tattoo. It was designed by the extraordinary Sven Kleist from Dortmund. 

 

I loved tapirs since we played a game where you had to guess which animal you are and I started to realize how cool they actually are. And that they are somehow cute. It also became a symbol of friendship for my best friend Janis and me.

I wanted it tattooed to symbolize my idea of beauty. Because I believe that beauty does not mean the classic vision of it that most of us have. Beauty can be so much more. It comes from within. It is only defined by your very personal view of it. Beauty can be anything we want it to be. So a tapir can very well be beautiful.

It is embedded in a jungle theme because I’m planning to get that whole leg tattooed and it should all fit together quite nicely with the next special things I have in mind. It also reflects on how I feel tangled and lost sometimes (and yes, this is a reference).

7/03/2018

Secrets of Ink #4

This is the smallest tattoo I got by now and I got it from a tattoo artist in Würzburg. And it’s actually all because of Zach Myers of Shinedown that I have it. Here’s the whole story:

 

These are lyrics from “Don’t look back in Anger”, the Oasis song that Zach Myers played in Hamburg & Amsterdam in June 2016. I had never really been into that song, but his performance changed that. It got stuck in my head and I somehow carried that on to the new city I moved to. And then there was this one night when my brother was visiting and he, my roommate & friend Svenja and I were at that bar. And then, suddenly, this song came on. We were singing as if it was to save our lives and so it became part of the Würzburg playlist that accompanied Svenja & me during our year there.

It was only after a depressed phase when we sat on the floor of the hallway in our apartment (both of my roommates and me), crying, that someone (not me) had the idea to get a tattoo, a friendship tattoo that reflected this special year. It took us forever to think of something we would all love. That’s when the idea was born. We wanted the words “as we’re walking on by” written on our foot or ankle.

When we finally made an appointment with the tattoo artist, Svenja went nuts because she had never imagined to ever have a tattoo and now here we are, both wearing this beautiful small thing.

It represents our time in Würzburg, it represents that we had left and that we would always carry that part of our lives with us, even though not all memories might be good. It also means that we will eventually move on and that this belongs to the past. And it means that if we ever lost touch, we would still be connected as we were part of each other’s life.

6/27/2018

State of my Head #7


“It is good that you feel something.”
That’s what Brent Smith said to me when I apologized for crying after the show in Amsterdam. I still feel strange about it because I’m not good at dealing with this kind of emotions. Especially not in front of the man who actually helps me overcome them. So, I’m still sorry that I cried that night because it was not really what I wanted to show. Because Brent should have seen me smile as that is what he makes me feel on the inside. And I cried because his words had touched me, because I needed to hear them. I’m angry because I didn’t say all the things I wanted to say to him because I spent my time crying. But I also know that all of these feelings are ok. It’s hard to accept that for myself even though I easily say that to others; because then I really mean it. But it’s true. It’s good that I felt something. I still do. And I’m still close to crying when I think back to that. I’m still sorry but I also try to accept that this is just how it went that night. And that it is ok.

“One step at a time.”
That’s what Brent said to me when I told him I was struggling with what’s inside of me. I tried to internalize this idea, this thought because I know he’s right. And again, I needed that. He helped me more than he might know because now I see things differently. Now I don’t think of tomorrow while today is still very much alive. Now I think about what’s most important right now and I find a solution for it – and then I move on. Brent said, if he’d think of everything he had to deal with at once, his head would explode. And that was just it. That’s how I felt very often. And maybe it’s because it was him who told me, but I have a feeling that I finally can deal with this. By concentrating on one thing first and then the rest. I’ll do one step at a time. And it’s alright, I will always push through somehow.

“Have you ever been to New York?”
That’s what Brent asked when we were talking about what I was going to do with my life. What I wanted to do. He asked if I planned to travel and I said yes and then he suggested this. He made me think of what I really want and – to be honest – this is really hard for me. Because that is the point I struggle with most. I don’t know. I do have dreams, but I fail to believe in them. I’m afraid to fail. I’m afraid that I might not be good at anything at all. Not really. But Brent – without knowing this – helped me believe in this. He actually told me that my plans sounded good. That I should give it a try. That I should travel. See New York. I’m still afraid and I still don’t know where to go, but now I have a moment I can think back to. I can think back to that night in Groningen when Brent told me my dreams are alright and that I should follow them in my own way. I can hold on to that now. And that is important.

6/23/2018

One step at a time - thank you for everything!

I'm sitting at home and I wonder. I wonder how these three days could pass so quickly. And I already miss everything. I miss it when the lights go down and Barry, Josh, Eric and Brent come on stage. I miss the jumping and singing and screaming. I miss the crying when Brent starts to talk right before they play "Brilliant". I miss crying during "Brilliant" and not having recovered during "Second Chance". I miss Barry going nuts during the show. I miss Stefanie next to me, crying and laughing with me. I miss all of this. I miss Shinedown.

But back to the start. There were these three cities and these three Shinedown shows I went to: Groningen, Amsterdam, and the Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel, Belgium. I had been to Rock im Park already, but that felt so long ago. And it was just not the same.

06/20/18, Groningen, Netherlands
The show was on. My first Shinedown headline show since June 2016. My first Shinedown headline show without Zach Myers, but thank God there was Josh Sturm who was just as awesome and who did this whole tour with Shinedown so Zach could be with his family when his second son, Avery, was born. Stefanie and I went crazy as soon as "Sound of Madness" started. And we didn't stop until the very end of it all. In the middle of the show, Brent started to talk and his first sentence of this speech was: "When was the last time someone called you wonderful?" That was when the tears started to come and they wouldn't stop until after "Second Chance". Crazy. I thought this was the most emotional Shinedown show I've ever been to. It was at that point.

When it was all over, I went outside and Stef went to her hostel. I drove around in my car, somehow lost. We didn't know where the bus was and so we didn't think we would see the band after the show. But then there was the tour bus and I was all alone standing there until one of the crew, Matt, told me that they'd be there in a minute. And then all of them, Eric, Josh, Barry and Brent, came out to talk to me and that was just the most amazing thing. I can openly say that I have never been happier in my whole life. 

06/21/2018, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sold out show. Stefanie and me in the front row again. And then things got even more emotional than the day before. Brent introduced "Brilliant" again and I don't know if on purpose, but he talked about so many things I had written down in the letter I had given to him the day before. No words for how I felt. That was just beautiful. Overwhelming. 

We met the band afterwards again and they knew they wouldn't get much sleep before the next show in Belgium, but still they took their time to talk to us. So many kind words, so much love. 

06/22/2018, Dessel, Belgium
The Graspop Metal Meeting. I was still emotional from the day before and I didn't expect to be even close to front row because I was very late. But thanks to the most amazing person, Andy, who let me stand in front of him in the front row, I could enjoy that view one more time for this summer. The set was short, only 45 minutes, but even though they must have been tired as hell, Shinedown gave it all. 


At the signing afterwards so many people came, they couldn't finish during their 30-minute-time-slot. So Eric and Barry decided to walk straight into the queue and talk to those who couldn't get to them anymore. 

This is the shortest version of the story I could think of. There's so much more to say. And the following will be directly for these four guys that made these last three days so very special. But if you like, feel free to read on. 

Dear Barry,
Thank you so much for smiling at me during the shows. For giving me your drumsticks in the end. For talking to me afterwards. My brother was super happy about your voice mail and he definitely will be there in November to see you live again. You are such a kind and gentle person and I know this wouldn't have been as funny and crazy without you. You make people smile by being yourself. You are amazing.

Dear Josh,
You did such a great job on those guitars. Your energy and presence on stage were perfect and I am very happy and grateful that I got to know you. Thank you for making all this possible. Thank you for coming out and talking to me. You will always be a part of the Shinedown family and I hope we can meet again some day. You are amazing.

Dear Eric,
There are no words strong enough to describe how deep my respect for you is, for what you do up on stage every night. Thank you for talking to me after the shows and for making me laugh. You are not only overly talented in almost everything but also very funny and just such a good person. You help people get through their tough times and that is so important. You are amazing.

Dear Brent,
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. For the advice you gave me in Groningen, for listening, for sharing your thoughts with me. I feel so very privileged because you spent so much of your precious time dealing with my issues and sharing parts of yours. And I really mean what I wrote in my letter: If there's anything - anything - I can do to give some of this back, to do at least a tiny part of what you did for me for you, please let me know. I'm sorry for crying in Amsterdam, I didn't want to be strange. You made me happy and you made me feel better. You are amazing.


I am happy and grateful that I could do these shows with you. And I will see you again in November. Be safe and have a safe travel home.

3/13/2018

The DEVIL’s in the next room

It’s been awhile since Shinedown released some new music and when they did, it came in with a bang. Now they released the first single of the new album “ATTENTION! ATTENTION!” which will be released on 4th May 2018.

“DEVIL” is a hell of a rock song!

It came out together with the official music video which is really intense. Both are crazy, heavy, and very new to us Shinedown fans regarding to style. But new does mean more amazing here. The progress this band always makes with every single piece of music they create is fantastic. It’s inspiring. It’s breathtaking.

„DEVIL“ is very rhythmic. It’s heavy, a great rock song with crazy guitar riffs. Brent Smith puts all his power in his voice in this song. This is a piece of music that gets stuck in the head right away and won’t leave too soon. The words are somehow dark, but also powerful. The rhythm is catchy. It is a song even more powerful than “Cut the Cord” was, but with its very own dynamic and its very new Shinedown style. 


If you take a closer look at the lyrics of "Devil", it is promising an extraordinary album with an amazing concept. "It’s about to get heavy" is the first line of the chorus and at the same time it might also be the motto of “ATTENTION! ATTENTION!” Brent Smith also starts the song with the words “Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick up the phone!” – For me, he asks the fans to listen to the new song, to be ready to take this new album and love it. And in the end, why shouldn’t the record be the devil waiting in the next room?
  
But I’ve already talked to much about a piece of art that no words can ever properly describe. So I suggest you give it a listen: